Coaching with Neuroscience: Your Guide to Building Resilience

Oct 4, 2023

Neuroscience teaches us that the brain thrives on novelty and challenge. Embracing change and uncertainty in business can stimulate growth, creativity, and resilience.

-Dr. David Rock

Resilience is fundamental to our happiness. It enables us to survive adversity and thrive in the face of challenges. At one level of scriptural truths, which are very relevant, intrapersonal awareness in developing purpose & meaning in life, adaptability, optimism, acceptance with gratitude and compassion are genuinely noble qualities we need to imbibe to be truly resilient. At another level, resilience seems to be a cultivated mindset that can be developed. Coaches can help clients with an understanding of neuroscientific findings in the space of resilience leading them to their potential.

Neuroplasticity: Rewiring the Brain

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s remarkable ability to adapt and rewire itself in response to experiences and learning. Neurochemicals like brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) play a role in promoting neuroplasticity. Understanding this concept is crucial in coaching individuals to build resilience. By guiding clients to engage in positive, growth-oriented experiences, coaches can help them rewire their neural pathways and develop resilience. It’s important to know that this process takes time. In coaching, one should allow 6 to 9 months to rewire.

Stress and the Brain: Breath & Body Awareness

Stress is a constant factor of life for most of us. Excessive and chronic stress impairs resilience and recovery. Understanding that stress is self-induced and we can distance ourselves from it is critical. Cortisol is a stress hormone, and its levels can be affected by chronic stress. Understanding the brain’s stress response system can equip coaches with tools to help individuals manage stress effectively. Going deep into the sensory energy metadata of the cause of one’s stress and labeling the accompanying emotions can relieve and heal stress. Meditation helps. So does exercise. Coaching helps the client to identify one’s belief systems, which cause stress.

Emotional Regulation: Mid-brain response

It’s known that the amygdala, located in the limbic brain area, is an emotional barometer. It is also the conduit between the hippocampus, our memory storage, and the prefrontal cortex, the decision-maker. Under extreme trauma of survival threat fear, the amygdala bypasses the prefrontal cortex. It activates the pituitary and the adrenalin, in what is known as the HPA response, followed by the SNS–Sympathetic Nervous System response. This is called the flight-fight-freeze response in street language. This may have disastrous consequences as well. Trained regulation of the amygdala response through deep breathing and meditation can be life savers.

Resilience and Social Connection: Neurochemicals 

Oxytocin, often referred to as the ‘nurturing or bonding hormone’ is associated with bonding, trust, and social connection. Resilient individuals often employ adaptive coping strategies, such as problem-solving and seeking social support. These strategies may be influenced by the brain’s reward and decision-making systems, which involve dopamine pathways. Stress can be controlled by reduced cortisol generation. Neuroplasticity, as was mentioned earlier, is triggered by BDNF. When clients understand they can control what happens to them and reverse negative inputs, their resilient mindset is enhanced. Coaches can leverage this knowledge to encourage clients to build supportive social networks, which are essential for resilience and recovery.

Growth Mindset: Belief systems

The concept of a growth mindset, popularized by psychologist Carol Dweck, is rooted in the idea that individuals who believe their abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work tend to be more resilient. Coaches can foster a growth mindset in their clients, encouraging them to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth.

Coaches can incorporate neuroscience findings into their practice to empower individuals and teams to enhance their resilience and recovery capabilities. The brain’s remarkable plasticity, stress management techniques, emotional regulation strategies, social connection, and growth mindset all play pivotal roles in helping individuals overcome adversity and thrive. Coaches can harness these findings to guide their clients on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment, enabling them to build the resilience and recovery skills necessary to navigate work-life challenges successfully.

Photo by Google DeepMind on Unsplash

Ram Ramanathan, MCC
Ram Ramanathan, MCC


Ram is the Founder and a Principal at Coacharya. As the resident Master and mentor coach, Ram oversees and conducts all aspects of coaching and training services offered under the Coacharya banner.

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